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Masonic Medical Research Institute, Lupus Association raise awareness of disease, research

Posted 5/21/22

The Lupus and Allied Diseases Association, Inc. (LADA) and the Masonic Medical Research Institute (MMRI) have teamed up to observe May as Lupus Awareness Month by hosting a joint program on …

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Masonic Medical Research Institute, Lupus Association raise awareness of disease, research

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UTICA — The Lupus and Allied Diseases Association, Inc. (LADA) and the Masonic Medical Research Institute (MMRI) have teamed up to observe May as Lupus Awareness Month by hosting a joint program on Thursday at the MMRI, 2150 Bleecker St..

In addition to promoting lupus awareness, the program featured the launch of the Lupus Patient Advocacy and Research and Development Collaborative Initiative between the organizations with a check presentation by LADA of $150,000 to the MMRI in support of three distinct lupus research programs at MMRI.

Lupus groups throughout the country join with state and federal lawmakers each May to help educate the public about lupus and the need for research. Lupus affects an estimated 105,400 New Yorkers, 1.5 million Americans, and 5 million worldwide: often causing debilitating symptoms. It is a chronic inflammatory autoimmune disease in which a triggering agent causes the immune system to dysregulate and attack the patient’s own tissue.

Lupus can affect virtually any organ system of the body; including the skin, joints, kidney, brain, heart, lungs, blood and blood vessels and is more prevalent among African Americans, Hispanics, Native Americans, and Asians. Early diagnosis and treatment are vital components in reducing the physical and economic impact of the disease. Following on the heels of a $25,000 award LADA presented to MMRI at their August 2021 Lupus Charity Golf Classic, MMRI was delighted to be the recipient of an additional $150,000 from LADA in support of their lupus research program, according to MMRI officials.

“We were honored to previously support MMRI’s lupus research program from 1990-1999 with $40,000 in funding, and excited to learn about Dr. Maria Kontaridis’ pioneering science and resurrection of lupus research at MMRI,” said LADA President and CEO, Kathleen A. Arntsen. “We are thrilled to see autoimmune research return locally to Utica and to partner with MMRI on such an important initiative.” 

“My mother’s 26-year-long battle with lupus motivated and inspired me to pursue lupus research. The support of our science by LADA makes it possible for my colleagues and I to focus our efforts in making medical discoveries that can hopefully improve the lives of those living with lupus and other autoimmune diseases,” said Dr. Kontaridis, Executive Director Gordon K. Moe Professor and Chair Biomedical Research and Translational Medicine Director of Research at MMRI. 

LADA’s support means facilitation of multiple lupus projects at MMRI. Following the check presentation, Kontaridis, Dr. Jason McCarthy, associate professor at MMRI, and Dr. Samantha Le Sommer, a postdoctoral fellow at MMRI, each a recipient of a $50,000 grant award, talked briefly about their research projects and how much LADA’s support means to the progress of their work.

“This generous support from LADA will facilitate our investigation of several new, cutting-edge avenues in the fight to provide relief to those suffering from lupus. Through these projects, we will employ state-of-the-art technologies to determine the role of specific cell types and proteins in the initiation and progression of lupus, all in an effort to identify new and improved therapies,” said McCarthy.

The event also included a U.S. Senate proclamation sponsored by Sen. Charles E. Schumer and a state Senate and Assembly joint legislative resolution commemorating May 2022 as Lupus Awareness Month. The state resolution was presented by state Sen. Joseph A. Griffo, R-47, Rome. 

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